Comparison of different airway management strategies to ventilate apneic, nonpreoxygenated patients

Volker Dörges, Volker Wenzel, Peer Knacke, Klaus Gerlach
Critical Care Medicine 2003, 31 (3): 800-4

OBJECTIVE: Endotracheal intubation is the gold standard for providing emergency ventilation, but acquiring and maintaining intubation skills may be difficult. Recent reports indicate that even in urban emergency medical services with a high call volume, esophageal intubations were observed, requiring either perfect intubation skills or development of alternatives for emergency ventilation.

DESIGN: Simulated emergency ventilation in apneic patients employing four different airway devices that used small tidal volumes.

SETTING: University hospital operating room.

SUBJECTS: Forty-eight ASA I/II patients who signed written informed consent before being enrolled into the study.

INTERVENTIONS: In healthy adult patients without underlying respiratory or cardiac disease who were breathing room air before undergoing routine induction of surgery, 12 experienced professional paramedics inserted either a laryngeal mask airway (n = 12), Combitube (n = 12), or cuffed oropharyngeal airway (n = 12) or placed a face mask (n = 12) before providing ventilation with a pediatric (maximum volume, 700 mL) self-inflating bag with 100% oxygen for 3 mins.

MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: In three of 12 cuffed oropharyngeal airway patients, two of 12 laryngeal mask airway patients, and one of 12 Combitube patients, oxygen saturation fell below 90% during airway device insertion, and the experiment was terminated; no oxygenation failures occurred with the bag-valve-mask. Oxygen saturation decreased significantly (p <.05) during insertion of the Combitube and laryngeal mask but not with the bag-valve-mask and cuffed oropharyngeal airway; however, oxygen saturation increased after 1 min of ventilation with 100% oxygen. No differences in tidal lung volumes were observed between airway devices.

CONCLUSIONS: Paramedics were able to employ the laryngeal mask airway, Combitube, and cuffed oropharyngeal airway in apneic patients with normal lung compliance and airways. In this population, bag-valve-mask ventilation was the most simple and successful strategy. Small tidal volumes applied with a pediatric self-inflating bag and 100% oxygen resulted in adequate oxygenation and ventilation.

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